Save some cash while upping your stats with the best Nintendo Switch controllers.
Looking for the best switch controller? The Nintendo Switch's Pro controller is superior to the company's smaller Joy-Con controllers for more demanding games. (Drift issues aside, the Joy-Cons are good for simple multiplayer games.) With the addition of actual grips, the Switch Pro controller is more comfortable. When you're in the heat of the moment, the full D-pad and larger buttons help you find the right controls. All of Nintendo's controller features like HD Rumble, NFC for Amiibo scanning and motion controls are supported, and it works with or without wires. It's great, but it's also regularly priced between $60 and $70.
Also read: Nintendo Switch OLED review: The Best Switch Yet, But Not Quite Different Enough
A number of cheaper third-party Switch Pro-like controllers are available, though. That's why we tested out several options to find the best Switch controller you can buy right now. Nintendo's official game controller still leads the way in button feel and comfort, but some of these alternatives do come close.
Aside from lower prices, going with a third-party Switch Pro controller has some advantages. For example, some have a Turbo button for faster firing rates or mappable buttons to make certain commands easier to trigger. Plus, a few of the ones we chose can be used with MacOS, Windows and Android, too. We'll update this list periodically as we try new products.
If you can afford to get the official Switch Pro Controller, do it. It's the best you can get at the moment in terms of comfort, performance and features. And if you need to buy more than one controller, maybe get this one for yourself and one of the less expensive options below for visiting friends and family.
The PowerA wireless controller comes closest to the feel and design of Nintendo's Pro controller, and you can normally get it for $40 to $50, depending on the design, from Amazon, Best Buy and other sources. The PowerA wireless controller doesn't have HD Rumble, IR or Amiibo NFC support like the Switch Pro controller does, but it does have motion controls. It's also available in game-themed versions including Animal Crossing, Mario and Pokemon.
Its one added feature is two extra buttons on the bottom of the controller that can be mapped on the fly. Also, while the original version of the Enhanced Wireless Controller ran on AA-size batteries, the newest models have a built-in rechargable battery for up to 30 hours of gameplay.
If you like to customize, this Bluetooth controller is for you. Using 8BitDo's Ultimate software, you can remap buttons, adjust stick and trigger sensitivity as well as vibration control and easily create macros for complicated button combinations. The left-hand controls are flipped so the layout is more like a PlayStation controller, but everything feels good and responsive. It's comfortable, too, although the black-on-black design makes the button labels near-impossible to see, but other colors are available.
The 8BitDo SN30 Pro Plus Bluetooth Gamepad controller, which normally sells for $50, works with the Nintendo Switch console, Android, Windows and MacOS. Another nice feature: Its rechargeable battery pack can be easily swapped out for a new one so you can keep playing if the included one runs down or no longer holds a charge.
It's like the regular PowerA Enhanced controller except smaller. The $50 Nano has the look, feel and features of the larger model including motion controls, rumble (not HD rumble, though) and mappable buttons. It runs on a built-in rechargeable battery instead of replaceable AA cells, though. A six-foot USB-C cable is included for charging; you'll get up to 20 hours on a single charge.
The Nano is designed for travel (it even comes with a nice little pouch for storage), but it's also good for kids or anyone with smaller hands. Also, while the shell is more compact, the buttons are full size, which is generally great. However, in a couple of games where I was button mashing furiously, I would regularly miss the Y button and hit the Home button instead -- not great if you're in the middle of a battle. At least the mappable buttons on the back of the controller made a workaround possible.
One other minor point: I noticed the Bluetooth range on mine is a couple of feet shy of the full-size version's range. It's something easily solved by sitting a bit closer to the Switch and an acceptable compromise for an on-the-go Pro-style controller.
The $50 full-featured design of the SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad controller makes it a more travel-friendly Nintendo Switch Pro controller alternative. And there are no mushy buttons here: Everything feels firm and responsive. While it might look similar to the PDP controller above, the thumbsticks are set up like a PlayStation controller. And unlike the PDP, it can be programmed for use with Android, Windows and MacOS.
It's wired, but the $20 Horipad is one of the more comfortable controllers we tested, and its buttons and sticks feel nice, too. But, while it does have a Turbo button, it lacks vibration and motion control. Its D-pad isn't a true pad, but a plastic piece that snaps on over four discrete buttons. It works fine, but the fact that it's a wired controller might be a deal-breaker for some. Currently, the black version of the controller is tough to find at its normal price but you can find it in blue and red.